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Title: Working memory in depression : a functional magnetic resonance imaging study
Author: Rose, Emma Jane
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2005
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Both resting state and activation studies of patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) have identified functional impairments in regions of cortex commonly associated with normal working memory function in healthy adults. However, attempts to determine whether or not depressed individuals are in fact impaired on tasks reliant on working memory have produced contradictory results. The main aims of this series of investigations were to determine (1) whether individuals with a diagnosis of major depression were significantly impaired on a working memory task (i.e. the N-back task), compared to control participants, and (2) whether any behavioural difference between the experimental groups was associated with a significant group difference in cortical activation during performance of the task (i.e. using blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)). Given that the prescription of anti-depressant medication in the patient group was a potential confounder of any significant observations, additional aims of the study were to (3) determine the impact of anti-depressant medication on performance on the N-back task, and (4) determine the effect of anti-depressants upon the pattern of cortical activation observed during performance on the task. In order to address these aims three experimental studies were conducted. Overall, the results of this investigation are indicative of a significant dysfunction of working memory in individuals with major depression. Furthermore, it would appear that this observed dysfunction is associated with a significant quantitative difference in the level of functional activation in a number of regions of cortex, which have been previously purported to support working memory function in normal, healthy adults. Moreover, the outcomes in experiment three allow us to speculate that the differences, both behavioural and functional, noted between patients and controls are the result of a factor in the aetiology of depressive illness rather than an effect of anti-depressant medication per se.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available